Feedback is Good Information – Overview (Part I)

We are going to embark on a series regarding a valuable element of business, and of any aspect of life where you seek to create change.  The concept I will be discussing over the next several weeks is that of feedback.  I started with an overview which I sent in my McLaren Coaching newsletter on October 3, 2014.  Please email me if you’d like a copy of the feedback newsletter or if you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, which comes out once every 6 weeks.  In the feedback newsletter, I talked about the value of feedback in making change.  I noted that human beings are physically incapable of seeing themselves in action.  And therefore,public speaking if we want to change something we are doing, we need to solicit feedback from others.  I offered the example of public speaking and noted that in the Toastmasters organization, feedback is regularly requested so that speakers may improve.  Public speaking is a great example.  It is nearly impossible to make significant improvement without receiving feedback.

In business, we interact with clients, co-workers, supervisors and employees.  Many of us are in “service industries.”  That means that how we come across to others is an important part of the success of our business.  Yet often we do not give or receive feedback.  When we don’t give feedback to our employees, co-workers, etc., we deprive them of the information they need to improve.  When we don’t seek out feedback, we make our own improvement a bit of a crap shoot.  And there is feedback all around us.  Yet often we do not see it or interpret it accurately, again limiting our ability to learn and improve.

In this blog series, I will first talk about asking for, and receiving feedback.

Then I will discuss giving feedback.

And finally, I will talk about how to look for and interpret feedback.

So let’s get started.  And as always, please comment and share your stories so others may learn.

First, let’s look at asking for and receiving feedback.

There are several ways to approach the process of getting the information that you want.  I will list them here and then devote a separate blog post to each.Feedback

Four different ways of seeking feedback are as follows.

1. Seek Clarity

The first mode of information-gathering is to seek clarity on the feedback that you are already receiving. You have the information, but you need some interpretation of the information.

2. Stop, Start, Continue

This is a management model advocated by various consultants and teachers. It is simple to apply. In this model, you are actively seeking information.  You are asking what should we STOP doing?  What should we START doing? and what should we CONTINUE doing?

3. Specific Questions

Many businesses recognize the need for feedback, but they ask questions that are not designed to elicit useful feedback.  They ask things like “would you refer a customer to us?” or “are we doing a good job – rate us from 1 – 10.”  But the answers to these questions only elicit whether you are doing well or poorly. They don’t elicit why or how you are doing well or poorly; or what specifically you can improve.

4. Elements of an Effective Feedback Request

In this technique you specifically ask for feedback as in methods 2 and 3, above.  The elements of an effective feedback request are:

a.  Sincerity

b.  Specificity

c.  Neutrality

d.  Follow-up

Where do you seek feedback in your business?  How has feedback helped you grow?  Where do you avoid feedback?  More on this important topic in a couple days.

About the Author

Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching attorneys and management since early 2008. She wrote a book, published by the American Bar Association, "Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance." She coaches attorneys and managers one-on-one, and provides in-house training designed to improve productivity and bring accountability to the organization.

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